- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 22, 2014

ALEXANDRIA, La. (AP) — The Alexander Fulton Hotel will be converted to a Holiday Inn through a deal that Alexandria Mayor Jacques Roy says should be completed in six to eight months.

The Town Talk reports (http://townta.lk/ZNzNbL ) the hotel is on track to be sold to the Southern Hospitality Group, LLC, which operates other hotels.

Officials say The Fulton would undergo improvements and be operated as a Holiday Inn, and the deal would get the city out of the hotel business, which it has wanted for years.

The plan calls for millions of dollars of renovations to the downtown hotel, which was built in the 1980s. It is already paying dividends.

“We have been quietly, but in a hard-working fashion, courting conventions back based on what we know will happen with the Fulton, and I’m proud to say that the Louisiana Municipal Association’s 2016 convention will be held in Alexandria,” Roy said.

Becoming a Holiday Inn would stabilize the hotel’s future and allow for much-needed improvements to the facilities. City and tourism officials say upgrading the hotel and reopening the Hotel Bentley will be a big boost for convention business in Alexandria, especially for conventions using the Riverfront Center.

The two hotels can combine with the Alexandria Riverfront Center for a “return of prominence for the kinds of conventions and events that we’re really good at holding,” Roy said.

The Hotel Bentley, which has been closed for nearly nine years, is undergoing renovations in preparation to reopen, though owner Mike Jenkins isn’t setting a target opening date at this time.

Roy said an enhanced Fulton hotel is important as part of an overall downtown revitalization that includes convention business.

“If the Fulton were not brought back, like we’re about to do, the Bentley is in jeopardy and the Riverfront Center becomes valueless over time,” Roy said.

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Information from: Alexandria Daily Town Talk, http://www.thetowntalk.com

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